Patient payment responsibilities need to be the number one concern for your revenue cycle management success. Most patients today have high deductibles, paying the majority of their medical expenses out-of-pocket. Also, there are a number of procedures that may not be covered under their insurance policies.
In the past, patient payments represented a small percentage of most practice’s annual revenue. That’s no longer true today. While your practice still needs to maintain efforts to properly file claims and work with insurance companies, methods to encourage patient payments must take priority as well.
Top Five Tips to Encourage Prompt Payment
These five tips can help you encourage prompt payments while meeting patient needs:
- Financial Counseling Prior to Service. Prior to the first visit or at the beginning of a new treatment, set up a meeting with the billing department or designate a key point person in your office to discuss billing options and counseling for your patient. This allows the patient to ask questions and see different options your practice offers for timely repayment. Your in-office staff should be able to answer insurance questions, assisting the patient to choose the best method to keep payments on time without stretching their budget.
- Transparency in Billing and Filing. One obstacle patients face in their medical care is that they don’t always understand their bill. Every physician and insurance company uses different methods to bill, and they’re not always simple to understand. Patients may assume their insurance covers most costs, and they are sometimes unprepared for the total balance due. Develop a billing method that’s easy to understand so that patients can quickly and easily see their financial responsibilities and when payments are due.
- Separate Payment Protocols. Many practices have developed separate protocols for patients to pay their fees prior to their single office visit. This creates an added benefit of shortening the wait time for your practice, although for more extensive, costly treatments, this may not be an option. Your practice could develop dual protocols – one for patients with more complex needs and one for single visit patients.
- Offer Payment Plans. Payment plans are an excellent way to help patients afford treatment without compromising your own revenue cycle management. Keeping a card on file is a system that works well. Your practice can take the patient’s preferred credit card information and automatically withdraw monthly payments on a set day. This streamlines the process for the patient, and your practice is never left waiting for late payments.
- Create More Payment Options. The more payment options your practice can offer, the easier it will be for patients to pay on time. Some patients still prefer to pay by check. Others only use their credit or debit cards. Consider offering the ability to pay through a web portal or an app as well; this can be a highly convenient option to encourage timely payment.
Great Patient Billing Protocols Encourage Patient Loyalty
Securing prompt payments is integral to your financial solvency. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the billing process can be an opportunity to secure patient satisfaction and customer loyalty. In fact, the way patients feel about the billing process directly reflects on the way they view your practice as a whole.
As you build your protocols for dealing with patient payments, the methods you develop should fit into your practice’s mission. Within your billing department, the task of helping people budget and understand their payment obligations is essential so that treatment can continue unimpeded.